When I was a little girl in the 1960s, the beginning of the Christmas season was marked by the arrival of the Sears Christmas Catalogue. With only three television channels, the toy commercials were relegated to Saturday morning cartoons. The Christmas Catalogue contained everything we could ever want! My sister and I spent hours studying the latest toy offerings. Each item was carefully assessed to determine its worthiness for the all important “Christmas list.” The choices seemed endless — and even Santa couldn’t bring it all. We prioritized our needs, narrowing down our list until we established an achievable, incremental improvement in our toy future state. 

Times have definitely changed. The Christmas Season begins as soon as the stores can clear out the Halloween merchandise. The Sears Catalogue is gone. There are television networks dedicated to marketing and entertaining every stage of childhood development. The handcrafted, meticulously selected Christmas list is now quickly disseminated on Twitter and Facebook as soon as something strikes our fancy.

My Christmas list is certainly very different these days as well. I no longer wish for material things. As a Lean Healthcare consultant, I am privileged to work with caring healthcare providers all over the country. Whether I am working in a small community hospital or large academic medical center, the needs of the healthcare provider are always the same. And yes, all you caregivers – I am here to tell you there is a Santa Claus! It does not require a marketing empire or expensive technological solution. It is possible to eliminate many of the frustrations plaguing healthcare today through common sense incremental process improvement. Your wishes can come true by consistently applying Lean Healthcare principles to your daily work.

The Caregiver’s Christmas List How Lean Healthcare Delivers
Available wheelchair stretcher when it is needed Visual Controls
Fully charged, ready to use IV pumps & equipment Standard Work
Well organized, easily accessible clean supplies 5S
Common, shared workspaces are configured the same Lean Design –Standardization
Simple, direct communication Streamlined workflows
More time to provide high quality, compassionate care Waste Elimination

I encourage you to start a Lean Healthcare Christmas List today. Share it with your coworkers. Ring in the new year with a renewed spirit of involvement in correcting the issues that have robbed the caring profession of the sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing our efforts are helping others.

This week’s blog was written by Teresa Carpenter. Teresa is the Director of Lean Clinical Design with HPP and brings a unique perspective to lean healthcare as a registered nurse with extensive architectural design and facilities planning experience. Teresa began her career in healthcare working through the ranks from Admitting Clerk to Patient Care Director of various critical care units, medical-surgical units, and support departments such as Respiratory Therapy and Cardiac Rehabilitation in several South Carolina facilities. With over 12 years experience in the acute care environment, Teresa moved to Nashville where she spent almost a decade as Clinical Operations Coordinator for an internationally recognized leader in healthcare architectural design. Teresa facilitated process engineering services as a component of the design process for hospital renovations, as well as large-scale green field and replacement facility projects. Teresa assists hospitals and healthcare systems in all aspects of applying Lean to the master plan, design, and operational aspects of a facility design or clinical expansion. Teresa holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the College of Charleston, and a degree in nursing from Trident College in Charleston, South Carolina.

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